If you follow modern art, in particular the New York scene, you will probably have heard of Marko Stout. He is a New York based artist with a huge fan base that includes celebrity collectors such as the Kardashians, and his exhibitions are very different to your traditional art shows – think DJ’s and plastic cups rather than wine and cheese.
Marko is a prolific artist who works with many different kinds of media, and his art is often compared to Andy Warhol at his best.
Marko, can you explain how you got involved in the art world?
It’s a long but interesting story that ends with me living on a houseboat outside San Francisco, hanging out drinking wine and smoking weed with a friend who owned an art gallery in the area – he actually was a roadie for the Grateful Dead in the 70s.
Anyway, he got me into painting and even sold some of my works in his gallery. So that really got me interested in art professionally, as a career. A few more wild twists in life found me living in New York City and that’s when things really started to happen for me!
Did you ever receive any formal art training?
My degrees are in biology and medicine. I studied biology at Princeton – art never seemed like a practical career, but I have a natural ability to draw and paint and create on my own terms.
Art school would not benefit me at all, it’s a place where students go to learn to paint like the old “masters” and that’s so not me! I wanted to create something new; like to do my own thing and let it be judged on its own merit, not some academic construct.
Your work can seem to deny categorisation – how would you describe your artistic style?
I really don’t like classifications, it seems way too limiting. I saw on Wikipedia that they called my style “industrial pop”. I’m not sure what that is, but I kind of like that term.
As far as my work is evolving over the years, I find it becoming a bit more minimalist in style. I can say much more and get directly to the point with more intensity.
Your style of art has often been compared to Andy Warhol – would you say his works have influenced your style?
Andy Warhol is really the father of modern art as we know it today. He is the first real American artist with a style totally different than the old traditional European painters – way cooler and more democratic… more American! I just saw the new Warhol exhibition at the Whitney Museum here in New York, and it was really amazing to see a retrospective of his work presented like this.
Unlike most artists of the 20th century, or history for that matter, Warhol worked in great depth in many different forms of media – I think as far as subject matter goes, I was especially influenced by his film work and his use of colour for impact in prints certainly influences my work as well.
Is there a reason so many of your works are inspired by New York, given you started painting in San Francisco?
Yes. I moved to New York.
The vibe is really quite different in NYC, its where all the action is. It’s much tougher to make it in New York, but I like the challenge and the excitement of living on the edge in the canter of it all. I’m really immersed in the subjects of my work and the vibrant art scenes of Chelsea and downtown New York.
A number of high profile celebrities are fans of your work. Have any of them influenced the art you create?
No. My work is more influenced by environment and the models I work with. I’m personally not at all interested in celebrities, I find more interesting people here on the streets and clubs in New York. But, as it happens I have a lot of celebrity fans and buyers – maybe that’s because my work tends to be a bit pricy for the average collector and the rich celebrities are the one that can afford to buy my art.
I had very nice endorsements from the Kardashians and some RuPaul Drag Race stars; I think this may have gotten the whole celebrity collector thing happening for me. I know Carson Kressley from the “Queer eye for Straight Guy” show and Madison Hildebrand from Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listings LE” had nice thing to say about my last exhibition, and even Snooki made a fun video for us.
You have had exhibitions in Europe before – do you have any more international trips planned, or do you think you’ll stick the US and New York for a while?
We had a couple of very big, successful shows here in New York this year – Gallery MC in summer and in the fall a really big show at Caelum Gallery in Chelsea. The crowds were huge for both exhibitions and we sold most of the works- so I’m very excited to be working with the New York galleries!
We sold some of my sculptures to a Berlin night club and are planning an exhibition there next fall some time, still working out the details with the gallery – I don’t really want to go to Germany in the winter… way too cold!